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The memorial plaque or ‘dead man’s penny’ awarded to Lt Euan Lucie-Smith, who died at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. It sold for £8500 at Dix Noonan Webb.

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The plaque was awarded to a soldier believed to be the first black officer commissioned into a British army regiment during the conflict and the first black officer casualty.

It was awarded to Lt Euan LucieSmith, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was killed in action on April 25, 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres.

Estimated at £600-800 in the Dix Noonan Webb sale on November 12, it sold at £8500 (£10,540 including premium). 


Lt Euan Lucie-Smith, who died at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.

Lt Col (Ret’d) John Rice, chair of the museum trustees, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we have been able to acquire this plaque of national importance and to be able to display it in our regimental museum in Warwick for the benefit of the general public. It will help us to showcase the contribution of Commonwealth soldiers in our regiment.”

The plaque was discovered by a former Member of the European Parliament, James Carver, who is a keen collector of medals relating to West African soldiers of the Victorian and Edwardian era.

He spotted it for sale on the open market, bought it on a hunch, and has since researched Lucie-Smith’s military career and family background. “Until now, the best-known black soldier of the First World War has been Walter Tull. However, I now believe Lucie Smith to be the first black officer,” said Carver.